Cornell (0-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) will start its second straight ECAC season in the Greater Albany area this weekend looking to pick up a couple of key wins to get the season started on the right track.
The teams Cornell will face will be a study in differing styles.
Tonight, the Red kicks off with Union (3-1-0, 1-0-0) , a team that closely mirrors a smallish Cornell.
“Union is a very physical team that plays a very team-oriented game,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86.
Union surprised a lot of people by defeating Rensselaer 4-2 last week, and might be able prove itself to be more than just the league doormat it has been in the past. The Skating Dutchmen are off to their best start since the 1994-95 season.
Union will need to rely on solid play from goaltender Brandon Snee. He stopped 35 shots in goal last week against RPI, and could face a similar barrage of rubber against the Red. Cornell put 37 shots on goal last week against Sacred Heart.
Special teams will be important again for the Red, which faces an opponent who lives and dies by its special teams. Union has been 8-for-29 (.276) thus far this year on the power play, while giving up only five goals on 36 (.861) chances.
Cornell’s powerplay was not far from comatose last weekend, going a woeful 1-for-11 (.091) in last week’s game with Sacred Heart.
“You’re not gong to win any games if you go 1-11 on the powerplay,” said sophomore defenseman Doug Murray, whose absence last weekend was crucial loss for the Red. The Swede will be back in the lineup this weekend, which should boost the Red defense. Murray is, however, unlikely to be 100% yet.
“[The injury] feels good,” said Murray. “It’s a little weak after a long injury like that.”
The Red should expect to find junior goaltender Matt Underhill between the pipes tonight. Underhill is the only Cornell goalie who has not seen ice-time this year.
Rensselaer poses a completely different challenge for the Red. As opposed to Union’s physical play, the Engineers (2-2-0, 0-1-0) play more of a speed game and rely on their big scorers like Marc Cavosie to put the puck home.
“They’re always an offensive minded team that can get up and down the ice,” said Schafer.
Last year, Cornell used this to its advantage in Lynah Rink, winning the transition game and subsequently dumping 61 shots on RPI’s Scott Prekaski. Prekaski is gone this year, leaving RPI without a true power goalie. Freshman Nathan Marsters is in the pipes this year for the Engineers, and has a 2.68 GAA and .902 save percentage.
After last week’s disastrous 5-3 loss to Sacred Heart on home ice, the Red has been concentrating on the little things to turn around its play.
“We corrected a lot of little things this week and we’re looking forward to this weekend,” Schafer said.
Overall though, the Red is simply looking to establish itself as a powerful force in the ECAC.
“We’re really looking forward to establishing ourselves,” said senior co-captain Larry Pierce. “We’re looking forward to getting couple of ‘Ws.'”
Murray agreed. “The team is very hungry to come out and show what kind of team we are,” he added.
This weekend will give Cornell a chance to show just how good it really is.
Archived article by Charles Persons